The Writing Process 2015: Sniffing A Story

Sniffing a StoryI made a New Year’s Resolution for 2015. It’s time to get moving again.

The last months have been spent at my computer finishing The Color of Light, book four of my Goddesses Anonymous series. I’m delighted to say I turned it in right on time, but not without spending more hours than expected hunched over my desk. Novelists know when this happens, everything else has to move over. For me, that turned into free time and exercise.

Now my book’s off now to be read and dissected by my editor, and I’m on my third day of my resolution. Every morning Nemo and I set out for a dog plod.

Beagles are noses on four legs. There’s not a smell in the world that Nemo doesn’t want to experience. So between my theory that he needs real exercise–as do I–and his that he needs to stand on the tree lawn for fifteen minutes sniffing everything that’s happened there–we don’t want to think about that in any depth–we’ve come up with a compromise. We go a mile, slowly, but we keep moving. We plod.

Here’s the good news for me. At some point on every trip plodding turns into plotting. Because what can I do as he sniffs? It’s a perfect time for sniffing a story.

In 2015 I’ve decided to share my newest book in stages here. Not the story itself, because, hey, I don’t want you to be so tired of it you don’t buy it when it arrives at your favorite bookstore. But the process.

Over the years I’ve blogged about all the steps that go into a novel, beginning with ideas and moving forward. I’ve used illustrations from my own struggles and books. But at no point have I shared the whole stormy process from day one.

Ever wonder how a writer’s mind works? Over the course of this year, you’ll find out. I’ll report when I have something new to tell you. Weeks may go by between The Writing Process 2015 blogs. That will be realistic. Because books take time to develop and grow.

So where am I now?

In September I brainstormed two ideas with my brainstorming group. If you haven’t read those blogs, here are a few that describe the overall brainstorming process.

Brainstorming 2014: Four Days of Ideas and Friendship

Brainstorming 2013

Thanks at least partly to my brainstorming buddies I now have the bones of two stories I can propose to my editor. I may still propose one or the other. It’s quite likely, in fact. But novelists aren’t sensible people. In my next Writing Process 2015 post I’ll elaborate. Because right now I’m sniffing a story that has no relation to the two novels I’ve brainstormed.

Like Nemo, I’m a creature of biology and impulses. Sniffing a story is more intriguing than writing a proposal for ideas that have already been thoroughly sniffed-out.

Let’s see what happens, shall we? I think this will be fun. I hope you do, too.


  1. Martha O'Quinn on January 6, 2015 at 8:07 am

    At the risk of repeating myself, I will offer the following comment. It still tickles me when I hear it or repeat it for the hundredth time. When walking our sniffing dog I think of “shopping the classifieds.” I look forward to your conclusions for the next book.

  2. Terri Chlapek on January 6, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    I have no idea why we say we take the dog for a walk. What we do is take them for a sniff.

  3. Machelle on January 6, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    I love this visual. We do take the dogs for a sniff! I get a lot of thinking doing during that time( sometimes I just don’t think and that is helpful too!) Looking forward to following you along in the process.

    • Emilie Richards on January 9, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      It sounds like people reading my blog have lots of dog experience. Sniffing dogs at that.

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